Membership of the CIOB in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region has an estimated 1,300 members, of which only 190 are female. The construction sector in the region has its challenges and, coupled with a transient workforce and unpredictable changes in the market, it is vital that our membership remains diverse and celebrates the pioneering women leading the way.
The following five Chartered professionals either currently work in MENA or, after many years in the region, have recently relocated. They have not only adapted and embraced the culture but have excelled in a constantly evolving industry where the key to progression is diversity and inclusivity.
Their career paths may be varied but all, with the support of CIOB membership, continue to lead the way for other women in the sector to follow. By sharing their stories and experiences, they hope to continue to inspire others to join this exciting industry and to highlight the success that females can, and are, having in their construction careers.
Noreen Hollywood FCIOB
Executive Director, Hollywood Associates, Dubai
I first became interested in construction as a young girl when my father worked as a bricklayer and I desperately wanted to go on site with him. He was eager that I get an education and so I later graduated with a BSc (Hons) Building Surveying degree and developed a passion for the restoration and conservation of our built heritage. I was encouraged to get commercial experience, leading me to a job as Contract Administration on the Crossrail project. This led to opportunities on other mega-projects, such as Qatar Rail and other infrastructure projects in the Middle East. Today, I am the Executive Director for Hollywood Associates, a contracts and claims management consultancy, previously seconded onto a major rail project in Abu Dhabi as the Procurement and Tender Manager.
My work with the CIOB has been an amazing journey filled with professional and personal rewards. As well as supporting my own career development, I’ve had the privilege to serve on the Dubai Local Hub Committee and Regional Hub Committee, be the Educational Lead in the Middle East, the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Congress Representative at Members’ Form, and serve on the Education, Qualification, Standards and Practice (EQSP) Board. However, the pinnacle has been my recent election on to the CIOB Board of Trustees, an important role allowing me to help shape the organisation for the benefit of all members.
My career to-date has given me some incredible highlights. I’ve reduced a £1million claim to zero on a public-funded project and I’ve been the “eagle eye” on a recent tender that, if left uncorrected, would have resulted in no tenderers on a $409m project. I’ve negotiated and secured contracts for clients, proof-reading and re-writing a contract for a $35bn project. Moreover, I have also been fortunate to encourage the next generation, presenting to construction students at local universities in Dubai leading to a 63% increase in student membership in the region.
I believe education is everything and that being Chartered is the foundation with which to build a career upon. I have maintained long-standing professional relationships with clients, contractors and developers, and coupled with my work experience, I incorporate that as a Guest Lecturer in order to create and foster a positive learning environment that empowers students and motivates them to excel as young construction professionals.
Ariane Dens MCIOB
Associate Director, Mack Commercial Management & Contract Consultants, Dubai
I am my father’s daughter and it makes me proud! My commitment and passion for the construction industry comes from being born in to it as my father’s entire career was Oil and Gas and I’ve only ever wanted to do the same. I was brought up being encouraged that if I worked hard, I could be and do anything I wanted. So, when I was first told I couldn’t be a Project Manager as I wasn’t an engineer, I laughed! It set me a challenge, one that I met and exceeded with 13 years as a Project, then Senior Project Manager. In fact, a specific highlight in my career was being nominated and sponsored by the Engineering and Construction Industry Training Board to undertake their MBA/MSc in Management, their first candidate from a non-engineering background. It was a huge nod to my capabilities and acknowledgment of my commitment to the industry.
I started my career as a business graduate, rotating through various disciplines (in truth to eliminate what I didn’t enjoy or want to do) and received a great sense of pride in developing others and ensuring they get the same support and opportunities that I received when I started my career. My experience in the delivery and execution of large and mega projects allows me to utilise the managerial, commercial and contractual skills I have gained in various fields, both onshore and offshore, to provide guidance to my clients. Everything I have been exposed to – the good, the bad, and particularly, the ugly – have provided me with continuous learning opportunities and I see them all as successes that have shaped my career.
I was introduced to the CIOB just three years ago by a true CIOB “power couple”; Noreen Hollywood and her husband Sean. They epitomise all that the organisation stands for: professional, ethical, committed to industry and passionate about development. What wasn’t to like? Now I’m Chartered, with almost 30 years’ experience within the Oil and Gas industry and my career has given me the opportunity to live and work in various countries, with the last 12 years in the Middle East. For me, learning comes in various forms – new projects, new clients, new countries, new cultures and, of course, the CIOB. Sharing these experiences and mentoring people, helping to develop knowledgeable, professional and fully rounded individuals, the next generation of construction professionals, is by far my most satisfying role.
Jennifer Bradfield MCIOB
Senior Project Manager (Consultancy), Mace, Qatar & Dubai
I’m never one to shy away from a challenge and I have enjoyed what the construction industry has brought me in terms of challenges and achievements. My construction career began with FermEng as a site manager with renovations within Abbott Laboratories l factories in Ireland and I’ve spent the past decade gaining experience orchestrating the full lifecycle of construction ventures. Having joined Mace in 2012, I have been exposed to some of the most amazing projects, experts and practical experience that has supported my journey.
I recently relocated back to the UK after sevenyears in the Middle East where I’ve been able to work on several major international and national programmes. My projects have ranged in size, type, and location but I love high-pressure environments where I can apply advance leadership skills and get hands-on. Already in my career portfolio is the Athletes Village for the London 2012 Olympics with Ardmore, Ashghal Programme Doha, Qatar and Expo2020 Dubai with Mace. It’s been a thrilling experience to work in multi-cultural, cross-functional teams committed to surpassing challenging objectives of projects and I want to continue that for many more years to come.
My journey through the sector has been a vital part in my personal development and supporting me to successfully obtain Chartered status with the CIOB in 2016. I then had the fantastic opportunity to join the Dubai Hub Committee for the CIOB and collaborate with industry leaders to support the sector in our region. Collaboration is instrumental in stepping our industry into the future and one of the most dynamic parts of the CIOB is that it allows experts to come together, in numerous environments. By sharing that invaluable knowledge and experience, we can continuously support the development not just of our own careers but of the industry. Now that I’ve moved back to London, I’m looking forward to maximising my membership in the UK, attending local events and getting another, fresh perspective of our ever-changing built environment with the CIOB and Mace.
Lina Zureikat FCIOB
Claims & Dispute Resolution Manager, CMA, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
My background is originally in Civil Engineering and, before getting involved with dispute resolution, I worked as a structural designer for a leading regional consultant for six years.. I was driven by a passion and eagerness to make a difference in an increasingly insecure and threatened world though, and returned to education to obtain a Master’s degree in structural design with a speciality in designing concrete structures to withstand terrorism and explosions in 2010.
I ended up combining my academic achievements and continuous professional development to step into my current role in dispute resolution. I completed a Master’s degree in Construction Law and Arbitration (LLM/MSc) from Robert Gordon University of Aberdeen and have invested time in ensuring I am at the top of my practice with membership of important professional organisations. I am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), a Chartered Quantity Surveyor (MRICS), a listed arbitrator with the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), and a member of the Young Practitioners Group of Dubai International Arbitration Center (DIAC40). On top of that, I became a Member of the CIOB in 2016, before being elected as a Fellow in 2017. My fellowship status is a great source of pride for me as it’s an international recognition of all my professional achievements.
In my past nine years with Construction Management Associates (CMA), I’ve taken leading roles on mega and complex projects around the Middle East. One of the most recent and challenging projects I have worked on was King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah (KAIA). The complexity of the airside infrastructure works and the interface between the apron services were enormous. The preparation of an application for time extension and reimbursement of loss and expense for the amount of 1 billion Saudi riyal required a very thorough and proficient analysis for the cause and effect of the delaying and disruptive events that took place during the course of the project. I enjoyed this experience and I am as much proud of the outcome as our client is.
I am proud of what I have accomplished so far and my passion for the field of dispute resolution and my persistence to continuously promote my professional skills have helped me stand out. I also have a solid motive to positively influence and stimulate others. I admit that this enthusiastic trip has been tremendously challenging in a male-dominated society and industry.
Saranga Gunawardane MCIOB
Lead Quantity Surveyor – Compliance and Quality Control, QServe Qatar, Doha
In 2011, I completed a BSc (Hons) in Quantity Surveying from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka with a First Class as well as receiving the Gold Medal for Highest Overall Grade Point Average for the Quantity Surveying Degree Program. I then spent my first two years of my career as part of the academic staff at the university in the Department of Building Economics.
In 2013, I moved to Qatar and joined QServe Qatar where I was eager to develop myself through pursuing further education and I completed my LLM in Construction Law and Arbitration with Robert Gordon University of Aberdeen in 2017. As well as focusing on my academic development, I have tried to improve myself by gaining recognised professional qualifications. I am an Associate Professional of the Green Building Council of Sri Lanka (GreenSLAP), a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (MCIArb), a Member of the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (MAIQS), an Associate of the Institute of Quantity Surveyors Sri Lanka (AIQSSL) and a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS).
In 2017, I also became a Member of the CIOB which was a remarkable step in my career. It gave me an opportunity to be part of a recognised organisation which adds credibility for my profile. By being a part of the CIOB, I’ve been given opportunities to develop myself and learn further, with the support of the CIOB Academy and CPD portal proving to be an invaluable source for lifelong learning.
Throughout my career so far, I’ve been involved in a variety of building and infrastructure projects in pre-contract and post-contract stages. I find being able to work in different planning stages in construction so interesting, as it’s challenging to establish the project budget and make sure that the spend doesn’t exceed the set budgets throughout the different project phases. My work often requires me to manage several tasks at the same time and meet tight deadlines, which brings a lot of satisfaction to achieve!
As a woman, I’m proud to be part of an industry that has previously been male dominated. Being a woman has never been a barrier to me achieving my dreams but being part of the construction sector has given me more courage. I strongly believe that by persistently accepting the challenges you face, being confident in yourself and your abilities, and having a passion for what you do will lead you to where you want to be, irrespective of the barriers that come across your path.